A Derry man who grabbed hold of a young fellow just as he let go of railings at Foyle Bridge last night has called for action to help people in distress.
Darren Hylands from Eglinton described the dramatic seconds which resulted in the 21-year-old’s life being saved last night (Tuesday).
Darren had been on his way by car into Derry with his wife Sharon, son Adam and brother-in-law Paul McDermott when they caught sight of the young man over the railings on the left hand side, coming from the Waterside to the cityside.
Speaking to the Derry Journal this morning Mr Hylands said: “It was about 9.30pm to 9.45pm. We heard people tooting their horns in the other lane and I thought there might be an accident up ahead. I couldn’t see nothing at first and then I caught sight of him out of the corner of my eye.
“He was over the railings whenever I noticed him.
“Whenever we got up he was just hanging by his hands.
“He let go just as we grabbed him, me and the brother-in-law. Thank God he was there too.”
By a stroke of luck, Mr Hylands had received suicide awareness training in his job as a civil servant.
“I had been trying to get him to make eye contact with me but he wouldn’t look at me. I was shouting and shouting at him, ‘look at me, tell me your name’, to show somebody was there to help him.
“He let go and we grabbed him. We managed to get him over the railings and he just looked at me then with a total blank expression on his face.”
Mr Hylands said the young man had struggled to get back over the railings for a time before breaking down in tears and opening up to his wife, who had managed to calm him down.
Mr Hylands said the young man said he had addiction issues, had been bullied, had attempted suicide before and had been trying to get help.
He also said that his parents were both dead and he had been living with a grandparent.
“It doesn’t even bear thinking about to be honest what the consequences could have been here for this young man and his family,” Mr Hylands said.
“It is frustrating to think that this young man is not receiving the treatment he needs. It is an absolute disgrace.
“He told us he wanted help but nobody is helping him.
“It is something I never really thought about too much before last night but this has really opened my eyes.
“We know it is there in society but society needs to change, even something on the bridge to stop people doing it like higher barriers would be a start. It is too inviting.”
Mr Hylands’ quick thinking teenage son managed to raise the alarm by contacting police as the near tragedy unfolded, and they arrived a short time later.
The PSNI confirmed that they attended the scene and took the young man to Altnagelvin hopsital.
A PSNI spokesman said: “Police would like to commend the quick actions of the members of the public.”
Those concerned about or wanting to know more about looking after their mental health are advised that information is available at www.mindingyourhead.info, while Lifeline can be contacted by anyone who is, or knows someone who is, in distress or despair on 0808 808 8000 or at www.lifelinehelpline.info.
The confidential service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.